The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the Nigeria Police and other anti-graft agencies have inaugurated an Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC).
The centre is a platform for citizens to seek redress against corruption and injustice.
Speaking at the formal inauguration of ALAC on Friday in Abuja, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani said that the platform would intensify the fight against corruption.
Rafsanjani said that the centre would also help Nigerians, especially those at the grassroots without the knowledge of how anti-graft agencies work to have access to justice.
“We are collaborating with these agencies toward empowering citizens to participate in the fight against corruption to promote integrity, accountability and transparency among citizens in public and private sectors.
“In a society like Nigeria where the structures for governance, although in place are skewed, it is expedient for citizens to begin to demand accountability from the government.
“Undoubtedly, across the length and breadth of the country, there has been the need for both governments’ at the federal, state and local levels, as well as the array of committed civil society partners to rise up to advocate for and deal with issues of integrity, transparency and accountability.
“This is because corruption is destroying our nation, so we decided to establish ALAC which provides free and confidential Legal Advice to witnesses and victims of corruption thereby empowering citizens in the fight against corruption.’’
Rafsanjani said that ALAC also played a critical role in identifying corruption hotspots that demand reform or official action by receiving reports from citizens on corrupt practices.
He said that those complaints would then be forwarded to the relevant authorities for investigation and redress.
According to him, sensitisations are also being carried out to educate citizens of their rights, responsibilities and roles in the fight against corruption.
“So, if this centre does not exist, many Nigerians who don’t have money to go to court, or have the wherewithal to reach out to the anti-graft agencies will continue to be victims of corruption and human rights abuses’’ he said.
He said that the ALAC was majorly centered around the grassroots people who could not protect their rights when they were being violated or when they experienced corruption.
Rafsanjani said that the organisation would serve as an intermediary between the government and the citizens in dealing with issues of corruption and human rights abuses.
He urged Nigerians to leverage on the free service created to assist victims of human rights abuses and corruption.
Mr Vaclau Prusa, the Programme Manager, Anti-corruption CISLAC, said that ALAC would empower citizens to begin to demand accountability from the government.
Prusa said that the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) which the country was committed to made it mandatory for states to establish and put in place necessary support for victims and witnesses of corrupt practices
He said that was why CISLAC with support from Transparency International and Global Affairs Canada established ALAC under its IMPACT project.
He said that ALAC was an instrument established to support the government to achieve its OGP aims and change the narratives of the country in terms of corruption and human rights abuses.
Also speaking, representative of the Nigeria Police, ACP Abayomi Shogunle, Head of Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU ), said that the unit was established to effectively attend to complaints by Nigerians.
Shogunle said that the major aim was also to fight corruption in the Nigerian police force as well as assist victimised citizens.
“What that means is that we are now taking cases of misconduct on corruption practices against all civil servants in the three tiers of government and even the private sectors.
“So people can submit complaints against any official or civil servant or private sector for possible redress because the issue of corruption cuts across all spectrum.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the major partners of ALAC include Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and National Orientation Agency (NOA).
Others are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Human Rights Commission, and Code of Conduct among others. (NAN)